Fort Jackson officials announced that two U.S. Army drill sergeants have passed away over the past two weeks. U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Division is investigating the deaths, but no foul play is suspected, according to the Ft. Jackson Public Affairs Office (PAO).
On December 8, Staff Sgt Allen M. Burtrum, 34, from Cleveland, was found deceased. Burtrum was serving as a Drill Sergeant in the 2nd Battalion 13th Infantry Regiment. After not showing up for work, members of Burtrum's unit quickly located him and called for emergency services. Ft. Jackson EMS pronounced him deceased on the scene.
Burtrum spent 12 years in the Army and the past 18 months as a drill sergeant.
His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal (five times); Army Achievement Medal (four times); Army Good Conduct Medal (three times); National Defense Service Medal, Global War of Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Korea Defense Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon and Overseas Service Ribbon (two times).
"Our hearts are with the family of Staff Sgt. Burtram during this extremely difficult time," Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson commanding general, said. "We are deeply saddened at the loss of one of our own."
On December 18, Ft. Jackson announced that another drill sergeant had been found dead.
Staff Sgt. Zachary L. Melton, 30, from Huntsville, was found unresponsive in his vehicle by members of his unit. Shortly after arriving, Ft. Jackson EMS pronounced him deceased. Melton was a drill sergeant with the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment.
Melton had served 10 years in the Army and the past three years as a drill sergeant.
His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal with C device, Army Commendation Medal (three times); Army Achievement Medal (two times); National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon, North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
"We are extremely saddened by the loss of Staff Sgt. Melton," Kelly stated. "Our thoughts are with his family and the soldiers of the Always Forward battalion during this very emotional time."
1819 News spoke with Ft. Jackson's PAO, who said Ft. Jackson personnel are continuing to provide support, behavioral health specialists, and chaplain services to the teammates of Melton and Burtrum.
Kelly said, "As a Fort Jackson community, we are mourning the tragic loss of two of our drill sergeants within the past few weeks."
"While there are several ongoing investigations into the specifics of each of these deaths, we are taking very deliberate steps to ensure our resiliency resource offerings are adequate and responsive," he added.
Ft. Jackson is near Columbia, S.C., and home to 3,500 soldiers. It is the Army's leading installation for new recruits to attend basic training and is also home to many of the Army's Advanced Individual Training schools.
Soldiers, veterans, and family members who need help can call the Military Crisis Line/Veterans Crisis Line at 988, chat at veteranscrisisline.net or text to 838255.
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